Mangrove Community Forestry for Resilient Coastal Livelihoods
The University of Queensland
The world’s coastal ecosystems have suffered significant biodiversity declines as a result of humans’ activities, which is being exacerbated by climate change. As an example, it has been estimated that at least one third of all mangrove forests have been lost during the last few decades. Without appropriate governance and policies to reverse the negative trend and protect this ecosystem, mangrove forests and the valuable services that they provide may disappear in some areas.
Mangrove conservation and restoration can help preserve traditional ways of life, support food security, enhance the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources, protect biodiversity, and underpin climate action. Their continued decline would represent both an ecological and economic loss that coastal communities cannot afford. Understanding how we can improve effective mangrove conservation and restoration is therefore crucial.
Community forestry in mangroves is an emerging practice drawing on a participatory approach in forest management. It involves both communities and smallholders in governing and managing forest resources to achieve sustainability while improving the welfare of communities. The benefits for both mangrove conservation and community livelihoods under different social and biophysical settings are yet to be assessed, which would be crucial for developing successful community forestry programs for mangroves.
Recent analysis of the socio-economic drivers of mangrove extent worldwide has revealed that national commitment to community forestry policies can improve mangrove conservation. However other factors also influence conservation success, particularly governance systems and land tenure of mangroves, Indigenous rights, gender equity, and poverty, which require further analyses. During her AXA Fellowship at the University of Queensland, Australia, Dr. Valerie Hagger will investigate how community forestry and Indigenous co-management can improve mangrove conservation and restoration around the world. To conduct this study, Dr. Hagger will analyze countries with different socio-economic contexts, including Myanmar, Fiji, Australia, Mexico, and Kenya. Her project aims to reverse mangroves’ continuing global decline and strengthen coastal populations’ resilience.
The project’s outcomes will help inform policy and support decision-making to promote effective community forestry in mangroves that considers Indigenous people’s rights and customary management. This research aims to enable more effective allocation of resources by organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy to protect and restore mangroves and deliver ecosystem services for coastal populations, whilst developing a sustainable ocean economy and increasing community resilience to ocean hazards.
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